Tuesday, October 10, 2017

How America helped create dictator Yaya Jammeh

Here's some more background information to help our readership understand and appreciate the deliberations of the Commission of Inquiry into Jammeh's illicit wealth and the role America played in creating the person we now know to be one of the most brutal and corrupt dictator Africa has ever seen.


Former U.S. Ambassador and Gambian dictator

Former Deputy Head of Mission

Speaking on the phone to Bruce Knotts, the former Deputy Head of Mission to The Gambia he opined that Ambassador Jackson McDonald's efforts which succeeded in the lifting of U.S. sanctions against the Jammeh regime as well as providing Yaya Jammeh with financial support only to return to Washington to become the Gambian dictator's lobbyist certainly could appear as inappropriate.

Knotts did not make a direct accusation but said that Jackson's actions in his official capacity followed by his financial benefiting personally as Yaya Jammeh's lobbyists "smelled" to high heavens.

Ambassador Jackson had just assumed office in Banjul in 2001 shortly before the presidential elections which was considered by the opposition and many credible international observers as neither free nor fair.  That notwithstanding, Ambassador Jackson certified the elections results and with that action lifted the US sanctions against the regime of Jammeh that was in place since July 1994 when the 29 year old Lieutenant Jammeh, fresh from military training in the US.

The lifting of those sanctions by the US did not only strengthened the dictatorship of Yaya Jammeh but it also strengthened the personal friendship between the two.  The "rendition"program also saw the inclusion of The Gambia as one of those "black holes" where Al Qaida suspects were held, interrogated, sometimes tortured before being transported to Iraq and other sites across the globe, including GITMO.

McDonald's lobbying firm, Jefferson Waterman International (JWI), secured a lucrative contract from
Yaya Jammeh to spruce his image in Washington.  We have written extensively on the cosy relationship between Jammeh and JWI through Ambassador McDonald, a relationship that his former Deputy called "unethical" and borders on "corruption" because the lifting of sanctions allowed American taxpayers money to be used by the Jammeh regime in, what appears to be, in exchange for lucrative lobbying contract after Jackson left the foreign service.

JWI was not the only one doing business with the tyrannical ruler.  A second K Street lobbying firm that was doing business with the Gambian dictator was BRG Government Affairs LLC.  According to its Department of Justice filings, the contract appears to have been terminated on 31 December 2013 following protests against the firm that had ties with Haley Barbour, former Mississippi Governor and powerful Establishment Republican.

As Cherno Njie and Papa Faal, the two Gambian-Americans facing a two-count charge under the Neutrality Act of trying to unseat a foreign friendly country of The Gambia, the role that the United States played in creating a despotic and tyrannical regime like the one in Banjul is worth bringing to the attention of the world.

According to Bruce Knotts,  the personal relationship between Jackson McDonald and Yaya Jammeh "was extraordinarily and inappropriately close."  There is always "the fear that American diplomats will forget that they work for the American government and become too close to the host government," Mr Knotts opined, "Ambassadors to serve a dual function of representing their country and explaining their host country to their home country."  He proudly proclaimed the following: "I never forgot that I was working for the American government.  Jackson was working for Yaya Jammeh and showed that when he retired and went onto Yaya Jammeh's payroll."

Ambassador Jackson also went to work to see that Jammeh qualifies for AGOA which has since been expunge from the list of eligible African countries by Presidential Proclamation which took effect 1 January 2015.  However, President Obama's action, though welcomed, did little to nullify the impact of his invitation to the White House in August of 2014 of Yaya Jammeh, a known human rights abuser and someone who has refused cooperating with the US government in the case of the two Gambian-Americans who went missing while on a visit in The Gambia in March/April of 2013.  The Gambian dictator used the photo opportunity granted by President Obama by using the images printed on t-shirts that were distributed at political rallies in The Gambia is clear contravention of the rules for the use of the images.

Deputy Ambassador Bruce Knotts did not only ran afoul of his boss, he was in trouble with Jammeh too.  The American diplomat's compound/residence was violated before he was thrown out of The Gambia so that he will not act as Ambassador after McDonald's tour of duty ended.  Mr. Knotts was against the indefinite detention of Baba Jobe, even though he knew he was not clean, because it contravened Gambian law.  He said he was on the side of the rule of law.

The relationship between Amb. McDonald was so useful to and supportive of Jammeh's dictatorial and repressive tendencies that when the American diplomat's tour of duty was about to end, "Yaya Jammeh did all he could, even petitioning the Department of State to keep Jackson McDonald as U.S. Ambassador to the Gambia.  The Department of State reminded Yaya Jammeh that Jackson McDonald was the U.S Ambassador, not the other way around", according to the former American Deputy Ambassador to The Gambia.

It is to be noted that the Gambian dictator has named the military health facility at the Bakau barracks the "Ambassador Jackson McDonald Military Hospital" and he's been bestowed with Jammeh's highest civilian honor, both honors that should have been declined by the American Ambassador because of what Yaya Jammeh represents.